From “Chippewa Falls mom reinvents herself for new career” — EAU CLAIRE — In her early 30s, Mandi Leos found her life in crisis. With four children under age 10 at the time, she was going through a divorce and facing the prospect of living on her own and raising her children without a good enough job to bring in the income and benefits she would need. She had long-term concerns about her health, too.

Five years later and weighing 70 pounds less, Leos crossed the stage to receive her associate degree in radiography from Chippewa Valley Technical College. She’s ready to launch a new career, has high hopes for a job interview coming up next week, and has her eyes on a bachelor’s degree and saving some money for her children for college. Her oldest is now 14.

A great example of how to take control of one’s own life, Leos was the student speaker at the CVTC summer commencement ceremony, held at Memorial High School in Eau Claire. Leos, though, says she didn’t take control on her own, but let a higher power take the lead.

“My faith is what made me strong,” she said. I couldn’t have done it without faith.“

A 1993 Chippewa Falls Senior High School graduate, Leos took some training to be a hair stylist and worked in that field in Texas, where she and her husband lived for a time, and in Wisconsin. When her marriage ended, she realized the hair care business wasn’t going to cut it.

“You really can’t support four kids on that and help them with college or anything,” she said. “I thought to myself that I should look into the medical field. My mother is a nurse.“

She also thought she needed to be strong physically to meet the challenges of her changing life. There’s a history of diabetes in her family.

“I thought, if I am going to do this, I have to take better care of myself. I started running and changed my diet,” she said.

Leos explored the radiography program at CVTC and found some decisions she made in high school came back to haunt her. She was pretty light on the math and science credits. She then started attending CVTC to get the prerequisites she needed to attend CVTC’s radiography program.

“When I started I was terrified. I could hardly send an email,” she said.

Now, five years later, she’s one of the top graduates in the program and was selected as the student speaker for the ceremony.

“Whatever your field, this journey has not been an easy one,” she told her fellow graduates. “As a single mother of four, I can attest that this path has been perilous. I have had to expand my focus to include not just my family and current employment, but also my program requirements and future career path.

“When I chose to continue my education, it wasn’t just my decision, but a decision that required the support and patience of the people around me.“

The faculty speaker also came from the radiography program. Instructor Deb Kjelstad noted that all of the graduates were more self-assured and confident after two years in the program, and she predicted that Leos two years ago never would have dreamt that she would be the speaker.

“Knowledge gives us the inner strength and power to do things we never thought we were capable of,” Kjelstad said. “I have had the privilege of watching the graduates grow and develop into the future workforce and leaders of our community. Confidence is the companion of success.“

CVTC President Bruce Barker in his remarks to the graduates referenced a quote from Albert Einstein in urging the graduates not to settle for success.

“Don’t be satisfied with success,” Barker said. “Strive to be a person of value.“



From “New online option for radiography students” — WAUSAU — Northcentral Technical College, or NTC, in Wausau and Marian University in Fond du Lac have announced a new articulation agreement for radiography graduates. Students graduating from the Radiography Associate Degree program at NTC will be able to seamlessly enter the Radiologic Technology Bachelor Degree program at Marian University with junior status.

“Marian University is thrilled to have formed this relationship with NTC. Giving students options to continue their education is what this is all about,” said Tracy Qualmann, director of enrollment partnerships at Marian University. “This articulation takes into account all the work students completed through their associate degree, coupling that with additional coursework to equate to a bachelor’s degree. We’re all in this together to help craft an educated workforce.”

All of the classes necessary to complete the Radiologic Technology program at Marian can be taken online.

For more information regarding transfer opportunities and to view the transfer guides, visit

From “Job picture leads GTC to stop radiography program” — The 16 students enrolled to start the two-year radiography program at Gateway Technical College this September will be the last group to start the program for at least a few years.

According to Mike O’Donnell, dean of health sciences at Gateway, the program was closed to new applicants after school officials found a decline in the job market for graduates with radiography degrees.

After collaborating with an advisory committee, made of professionals from the southeastern Wisconsin area, O’Donnell and other Gateway officials saw the job market was steadily declining for recently graduated radiographers. These are the people who take X-rays, MRIs and the like at hospitals and medical centers.

In addition to the professional input, Gateway surveyed those who already had graduated with the degree and found they were working multiple part-time jobs, some of which involved working on call.

“There probably wasn’t going to be any full-time jobs with benefits in hospitals for the students,” O’Donnell said. “They aren’t hiring new radiographers.”

However, Jake Nunn, director of imaging with Aurora Health Care, said Aurora is hiring radiographers, but fewer of them as the demand has decreased because more are graduating with radiology degrees. A radiographer takes and processes the images; a radiologist is a doctor who interprets and diagnoses disease or injury from the images.

“In the past we saw a shortage of these candidates, but new training programs have created a growing number of applicants. Like Gateway, we have identified this shift and decreased the number of caregivers in our own training program,” Nunn said.

The radiography program is expensive, too, O’Donnell said. The price of running the program, license requirements, becoming accredited and the lack of jobs for graduates made Gateway officials question the program.

“We looked at all those factors and asked ourselves if the program was the best use of Gateway’s resources,” O’Donnell said. “We asked ourselves if it was ethical to take Gateway students’ tuition money if they’re not going to get a job when they graduate.”

In December, O’Donnell and his co-workers closed enrollment to the radiography program, despite having 100 students on a waiting list.

Gateway notified those on the waiting list and asked if they were serious about becoming radiographers.

After the group was narrowed, students that had been on the waitlist for the longest time were accepted into the final radiography program at Gateway.

Sixteen students, as well as four or five alternates, make up the class that will graduate in 2015.

Gateway advisers assisted the other students in choosing another program to enroll in or transferring to another college with an open radiography program.

“We got them (the students who didn’t get in) into other programs,” O’Donnell said, even in some programs that might have already been full. “We gave the students special accommodation because they had already been on the wait list for so long.”

Although some students were upset that they didn’t get into the program their chose, O’Donnell said that once the job market was explained, students weren’t as upset.

“Nobody wanted to invest time and money in something they weren’t going to get a job in,” he said.

From “Moraine Park celebrates the holidays by giving back” — At Moraine Park Technical College, students have been busy finishing up final projects, cramming for end-of-semester exams and registering for spring classes.

Despite their active schedules, many student clubs and organizations are finding time to make spirits a little brighter for families in need this holiday season.

■At the Fond du Lac campus, the Straight and Gay Alliance club helped Broken Bread with more than 900 families who registered to receive food for Thanksgiving. They assisted with registration, handed out turkeys and helped carry food to people’s cars.

■The Student Veteran’s Association is running a Christmas in a Shoebox campaign by packaging and mailing donated items to deployed troops.

■Moraine Park’s Cosmetology, Corrections, Radiography and Clinical Lab Technician clubs are all adopting families through the Salvation Army or collecting nonperishable food items for donation to a local food pantry.

■Staff and units of the college are donating items to support Elijah’s Mantle/Ebony Vision. This local organization supports at-risk minority youth ages 6-18 in the Fond du Lac area that are in need of clothing and shoes this holiday season.

■On all three Moraine Park campuses, the IT club is holding a hat and mitten drive and Phi Theta Kappa honor society is sponsoring a family on each campus by holding a food and gift drive.

Those interested in donating items or learning more about the holiday service projects should visit

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